Utopia 500

Presented by ANU College of Law

An exciting collaboration between the ABC, the ANU Centre for Law, Arts and the Humanities, and the National Library of Australia—featuring Alexis Wright, Miles Franklin award-winning author of Carpentaria and The Swan Book; Peter Singer, the most wide-ranging and influential philosopher in the world today; Russell Jacoby, author of The End of Utopia and Utopian Thought for an Anti-Utopian Age; and Jacqueline Dutton, an expert on the history of Australian utopias.

Thomas More wrote a book, coined a word… and changed the world. Since then, Utopia has beckoned to dreamers, thinkers, and critics across the globe. It has appealed to the very best in us. But it has also drawn out the very worst in us. And after 500 years, utopia seems as far off as ever.

We are faced with a world in which the largest problems seem utterly beyond us, and any effort to reimagine the future is begin replaced by a savage retreat to the imagined past. Short-term cycles dominate our media; pragmatic thinking dominates our politics. So is there any place left for utopian thinking in public life, in Australia in 2017? Is such a shift possible – or even desirable? Where is our island heading, and what sort of place do we want it to be?

To mark the 500th anniversary of the publication of Utopia, the ANU Centre for Law, Arts, and the Humanities is organising a major public event to be held at the National Library of Australia. Join us for a live roundtable featuring four renowned public intellectuals from Australia and abroad, in conversation with Paul Barclay from the ABC’s Big Ideas Unit. Together, they will discuss the role—or absence—of imagination and aspiration in how we address the critical issues confronting Australian society in the 21st century.

Is it too late to dream, or are we destined for a nightmare future? Find out.

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